Ctenochaetus striatus Quoy and Gaimard, 1825, Guam, Mariana Islands.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
German: Brauner Borstenzahndoktor; Japanese: Sazanamihagi.
The body is compressed and disc-like, with a venomous, scalpel-like caudal spine on each side of the caudal peduncle. The caudal fin is lunate. There are eight spines and 27–31 soft rays in the dorsal fin, three spines and 24–28 soft rays in the anal fin, and 17 (sometimes 16) soft rays in the pectoral fin. Adult coloration varies from dark gray to orangish brown. Can change color temporarily from dark brown to light tan. Melanistic, albinistic, and xanthic color patterns have been reported as well. There are several fine pale blue lines along the flank. Fine orange spots appear on the upper head and back to the anterior base of the dorsal fin. Both the dorsal and anal fins have narrow dark brown and pale blue bands, running longitudinally in alternation. Juveniles and subadults are especially colorful, with a small black spot located at the posterior base of the dorsal fin. Grows to 10.2 in (26 cm) in length.
Indo-West Pacific, from the Red Sea south to East Africa, east to Pitcairn Island and French Polynesia (absent from the Marquesas Islands), north to southern Japan, and south to the Great Barrier Reef and New Caledonia.
Found on coral, rock, pavement, and rubble of exposed reefs, reef flats, and lagoons in tropical waters. Depth range from 3.3 to 98 ft (1–30 m).
Found singly but also in small and very large aggregations. Also participates in mixed-species aggregations with other surgeonfishes and parrotfishes, among others.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Herbivorous. Feeds upon benthic algae, blue-green algae, and diatoms. Reported to cause ciguatera poisoning because of their diet. Ciguatera poisoning is caused by the cumulative deposition of a class of polyether toxins within the tissues of fishes. The toxins are produced by certain microscopic dinoflagellate organisms of the genus Gambierdiscus, which are transmitted by the food chain, increasing in intensity by a factor of ten in each successive level within the chain. The striped bristletooth ingests these organisms while feeding upon algae. If a contaminated fish is consumed by man, the concentrated poison contained within its tissues causes neurological damage that can be fatal.
Migrates to outer channels or exposed reefs to spawn in aggregations on an outgoing tide. Eggs and larvae are pelagic.
Not listed by the IUCN.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
Taken for subsistence and artisanal food fisheries but may cause ciguatera poisoning at some localities. Also collected infrequently for the aquarium trade but often they do not do very well in captivity; juveniles are more highly prized than adults.
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